Sidelong by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers on Bloodshot Records (April 28, 2017 Release Date)
Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
A little bit punk country and a little bit rock and roll. Right up my alley. It has great music and vocals, and the right tempo. This North Carolina native knows how to properly fuse punk, alternative and country together to make really really good music. This definitely had an Old 97s vibe to it, being loose and tight at the same time. Also, meandering between punk and country like a formula one racer.
I am not saying that Sarah Shook sways too far from her roots. She knows how to walk that line perfectly. The Nail (Track 2) is pure straight up country that could have come straight from Loretta Lynn herself. It is truly that good. It definitely has an edge and attitude to it that the early classic country artists didn’t have. But this is the 2010s and suits Sarah Shook quite well. This song is about a rocky relationship that teeters on the brink of disaster. “I can’t decide which one of us will be the nail in this here coffin.” I think that pretty much sums up a relationship on the rocks.
“I’m drinkin’ water tonight cuz I drank all the whiskey this morning”, is the first line from Dwight Yoakam (Track 6). The first line is a pretty good indication that it’s gonna be a rough day. It’s about a lover that leaves and has a rendezvous with a big country star. The star in question “is anxious like Dwight Yoakam”. A sad song but sung so beautifully that the sadness is replaced with awe.
The opening track, Keep The Fires Burning, is a very up tempo ditty that has a really nice country feeling to it. It also has a little bit of that 90s alternative thing going on ala 10,000 Maniacs, Lucinda Williams, and The Breeders. Sarah Shook does a credible job of combining both genres into a number that leans more to the country side of the dial.
I am extremely impressed with this offering by Sara Shook & The Disarmers. She is on fore and so is Bloodshot Records. They hit another home rum with an absolute gem. Keep up the good work Bloodshot and keep making that great heartfelt music Ms. Shook.